Issue #03: A New Way of Thinking About Your Capsule Wardrobe

Plus an intimate look at a marriage.

Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!

📺 Scenes from a Marriage’ on HBO Max: This five-episode limited series, a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s classic ‘70s miniseries (that’s Ingmar, not Ingrid, for anyone else who immediately thought, “From Casablanca??”), begins with a question: “To what do you attribute the success of your marriage?” Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, who have known each other since they were students at Juilliard, tensely stumble through their answer, then recall it, laughing, at a dinner party. It’s intimate, with rich dialogue that felt reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy (some of my favorite movies). By the way, you’ll either love or hate the first long shot, which breaks down the illusion of the home. I loved it. (Just go watch it, K?)

📚 Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman*: If you’re looking for an escape, this novel—which reads like a climate horror story—is not it. It takes place in near-future Los Angeles, where “Neighborhoods pool at the base of the brown hills in the distance; tiny modernist structures stud the slopes and peaks, swaddled by smog.” Frequent fires inconvenience drivers and water is so rare that tanks of bio-engineered WAT-R sit in driveways (the wealthy pay to have it pumped from a subterranean tank; the uber-wealthy have bottles of the real thing shipped in). The city is observed by Patrick, an East Coast novelist serving as a PA on a film adaptation of his own book. I spent the first hundred pages wading through Kleeman’s bleak, beautiful descriptions of L.A., but the book moves at a much faster clip after Patrick takes an interest in the mysterious green vans transporting people around the city.

🎧 “The Just Enough Family” Podcast: In this new podcast, Ariel Levy (author of one of my all-time favorite memoirs) interviews her friend, Liz Lange whose family was once among the wealthiest in New York. The podcast weaves between stories of Liz’s friends and family who are equal-parts eccentric and fascinating. Just a really great story, expertly told.

Enjoyed, but didn’t love: I wanted to love “Impeachment” (Beanie Feldstein plays a convincing Monica Lewinsky), but didn’t immediately warm to the first episode, which felt interesting but not entirely entertaining. Maybe next week will hook me?

*This is me giving you a break from all the Beautiful World, Where Are You coverage (I’ve heard it takes until page 40 to get going), and reminding you that a short story sequel to Normal People does exist. Also, Brandon Taylor did a great job of summarizing the “Sally Rooney Phenomenon” on this episode of the “New York Times Book Review Podcast.”

On Instagram, most of the DMs I receive are in reference to a Story I’ve just posted. Occasionally though, they come out of nowhere: What was that pasta maker you liked? (Philips, and yes I still love it!) Do you like your kneeling desk chair? (Yes, it singlehandedly fixed my back pain.) Where are your dinner plates from? (Year & Day) Can you do an update on your capsule wardrobe?

This last question is, by far, the most frequent. And I understand why: We’re all busy AF, so a closet full of clothes we can feel comfortable and put-together in with minimal effort is incredibly appealing. I created my capsule wardrobe nearly three years ago, selling and donating the vast majority of my clothes, keeping only the pieces I actually love and wear frequently. I’ve been making small, intentional adjustments to it ever since, but my closet looks a lot like it did three years ago. In the weeks leading up to grad school, I took another look at it, editing it down even more. In the process, I realized that most posts online will recommend specific pieces that work best for a capsule wardrobe (which I identify as around 30 pieces), but the truth is that your ideal wardrobe may look nothing like mine. Here’s a new way of thinking about how to create and keep a capsule wardrobe:

  1. Identify your favorite outfit—this is your foundation. Start with one outfit you feel incredible in. Look back at old photos, or take note over the next few weeks and snap a selfie when you feel like you nailed it in terms of feeling comfortable and looking good all day (this is key). Mine is the outfit I wore on my wedding day… minus the veil: High-waisted denim and a tank with thick straps (bonus if it’s thick enough that I don’t have to wear a bra). It’s easy, layerable, dog park-friendly, and just feels like me.

  2. Fill your closet with these elements. I used to fall into the trap of buying pieces that looked good on other people, or that I thought I “should” own. Instead, build from that favorite outfit as your base. It isn’t boring, it’s practical: My closet is mostly comprised of high-waisted denim, in a variety of washes and cuts, well-made tanks with thick straps in neutral tones, and mules. (By the way, because you’re buying way less with a capsule closet, there’s more freedom to save and then splurge on well-made clothes and shoes that will last!)

  3. Layer in elements to mix things up. Once you have your foundation, utilize jewelry, shoes, hair accessories, and jackets/sweaters to mix things up (and dress weather-appropriate).

  4. Go for “secondary” outfits one day a week. This is getting really in the weeds, but here’s what works for me: If your work week is five days long, wear your favorite outfit elements four of the days, then swap in a “secondary” favorite outfit one of the days to mix things up and keep from getting sick of your foundation outfit. For me, this is usually a full-length peasant dress or midi skirt in place of jeans. Bada bing. Capsule wardrobe!

If you have any questions or requests, you can reply directly to this email to ask. If there are enough, I may compile them into a capsule wardrobe FAQ, since I know this is a hot topic!

  1. A+F LuxeLoft Squareneck Tank ($39): I own this sweater-feeling tank in beige and sage. It’s the best thing to throw on with jeans, and is thick enough that I can go braless. So, so easy.

  2. Agolde ‘Ren’ Jeans (around $168): These may be my ideal high-rise jean. They’re well-made (compared to brands like MOTHER and Everlane, which I’ve found thin and lose their elasticity over time), super flattering, and super versatile. I have them in cream and a light wash.

  3. Jenni Kayne Mules ($395): I bought my first pair of Jenni Kayne mules for my 26th birthday over three years ago and they remain my most-worn pair of shoes, which, to me, justifies their exorbitant cost. I maintain them by bringing them to a shoe repair twice a year, and have since accrued two additional used pairs.

Just subscribed: Stack delivers monthly bundles of magazines from indie publishers. The case for igniting curiosity through “Fermi Problems.” A beautiful bedding company. Author-led bookclubs—I may join this one when I read Lisa Taddeo’s Animal (a book I’ve been meaning to get to!). A comforting podcast. What does it mean that my husband emailed me this article? (ILY, Jess Sims.) The flavors of these plant-based protein bars look so good. I’m honestly relieved these shoes sold out in my size so I don’t have to resist the urge to buy them anymore (there should really be a word for this, right??). On revisiting childhood hobbies. Possibly my dream bookstore, opening soon in Portland.